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Former First Union CEO Cliff Cameron dies at age 96

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Charles Clifford “Cliff” Cameron, credited with building Charlotte’s reputation as a banking hub before joining Gov. Jim Martin’s administration to help with budget matters, has died.

Cameron, 96, died Saturday at Southminster Retirement Community in Charlotte, according to Robertson Funeral & Cremation Service. A memorial service will be 11 a.m. Wednesday at Myers Park Baptist Church in Charlotte.

Cameron was CEO of First Union from 1966 to 1984, competing with NCNB and Wachovia and turning Charlotte into a national banking center. After retiring from First Union. Cameron became Martin’s budget leader, working to create reserves to help the state in bad times.

Gov. Pat McCrory said Cameron’s service to his country — he fought as a lieutenant colonel in World War II in Europe — and his service to the financial industry and the public were all part of an admirable life.

“Cliff Cameron’s visionary leadership was a major reason why Charlotte is the financial center that it is today. As a decorated veteran, his devotion to his country and state serves as an example to us all. He was also a genuine public servant not only for the Charlotte community, but for the entire state,” McCrory said in a statement.

Martin said Cameron planned to retire from First Union in 1985 when he asked the businessman to head the state budget and management office. Cameron agreed, working for the Republican governor for $1 a year and commanding respect from the Democrats who were the majority in the Legislature at the time.

“He was a great leader. If he had wanted to be governor, he would have been a great one,” Martin told The Charlotte Observer (http://bit.ly/1P9gSRq ).

Cameron was born in Meridian, Mississippi, and worked in the refinery business after World War II before joining an Army buddy in Raleigh to start a mortgage company he would later sell to First Union.

“I thought I was crazy at first,” Cameron once said of his career turn. “I didn’t know anything about mortgage banking … but we figured we were intelligent and could learn.”

First Union was eventually acquired by Wells Fargo.

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